ByRob Harris, writer at
Sometimes I play video games.
Rob Harris

There's something acutely comforting about the ritualistic routine of sitting down to watch your favorite sitcom each week. The relationships you form with a show's recurring cast of loveable characters - sometimes developed over a period of years - can be so powerful that settling into an episode full of familiar faces often elicits a feeling not all that unlike the experience of returning home.

It's for this very same reason that when an actor playing a sitcom character you've grown up watching tragically passes away, you feel like you've lost someone you know intimately, regardless of the fact you've never met in real life.

Although we may never have had the pleasure of encountering any of the following stars in the flesh, our connection to them is no less real; a testament to both the power of television and the immense talent of the actors themselves. They may be dead, but they will not be soon forgotten...

Earl Hindman / Wilson W. Wilson - Home Improvement

Died: December 29, 2003 (aged 61)

Though we rarely saw more than Wilson's fence-rearing forehead, Earl Hindman's neighbourly character spent a whopping 8 years on the show. I was deeply saddened to learn that he succumbed to lung cancer in 2003, dismayed at the fact that we'll never see his head peering over at us again.

Sawyer Sweeten / Geoffrey Barone - Everybody Loves Raymond

Died: April 23, 2015 (aged 19)

You'll likely recognize Sawyer as Geoffrey Barone, one of Ray Romano's twin boys who appeared on the sitcom from 1996 to 2005. The young and talented teenager tragically took his own life earlier this year, abruptly ending a career that had barely even begun.

You can watch the young star in action below:

James Avery / Uncle Phil - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Died: December 31, 2013 (aged 68)

As I'm sure countless others would attest, James Avery's death was shocking to say the least. Uncle Phil's bellowing voice and hilarious rage-filled tirades gave him a larger than life on-screen presence which will not be soon forgotten.

It was scenes like this that made him a truly one-of-a-kind individual:

Gary Coleman / Arnold Jackson - Diff’rent Strokes

Died: May 28, 2010 (aged 42)

Famed for his heart-melting catchphrase, the legendary Gary Coleman made a name for himself at a very young age. Though he passed long after the show stopped airing, the loss was no easier to bear.

Lisa Robin Kelly / Laurie Forman - That '70s Show

Died: August 14, 2013 (aged 43)

Although Kelly flew off the rails towards the end of her life, turning to drugs and violence, I'll always remember her as the endearing Laurie Forman from one of the greatest sitcoms to ever hit screens.

It's a tragedy that her accidental drug overdose stole the life of such a talented woman.

Windell Middlebrooks / Kirby Morris - The Suite Life on Deck

Died: March 9, 2015 (aged 36)

Middlebrooks was far too young to meet his end, succumbing to a pulmonary embolism at the ripe age of 36. Though he'll always be the security guard from The Suite Life on Deck in my eyes, the gifted actor also appeared in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Parks and Recreation, Scrubs, ER, Entourage, Hannah Montana, and many others. He will be sorely missed.

John Ritter / Jack Tripper - Three's Company

Died: September 11, 2003 (aged 54)

John Ritter's Emmy award winning performance in Three's Company cemented his place in TV's history books, as well as in the hearts and minds of viewers everywhere. Watching old re-runs of the show never fails to cheer me up, but after Ritter's passing his appearance always strikes me with nostalgic melancholy.

Sherman Hemsley / George Jefferson - The Jeffersons

Died: July 24, 2012 (aged 74)

As the only character to appear in all 253 episodes of The Jeffersons, Sherman Hemsley pretty much embodies the sitcom that made him famous. I can't quite believe that the legend isn't still with us.


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